How can I Become a Better Scrabble&Reg; Player?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Lovers of language (or lexophiles) may not be the best Scrabble® players. Even if you’re a good speller, and have a huge vocabulary, your Scrabble® scores may not be particularly good. People who enjoy the game often find themselves stuck scoring in the low 300s, and may be beat by other players, some of them quite young, who appear veritable geniuses at the game. If you’re a Scrabble® addict who continues to be annoyed by low scores, don’t lose heart. There are ways to become a better Scrabble® player that have little to do with spelling skills or love of vocabulary.

Woman posing
Woman posing

One way you improve your Scrabble® game is by studying common racks that can yield numerous different words, giving you much greater likelihood of finding a place for a bingo, seven letter word that uses all your tiles, and result in a 50 point bonus. The ultimate rack for the scrabble player is the tiles TISANE, which can be combined with all but a few letters to yield a word. SATIRE and RETINA also yield multiple words and combine well with other letters.

Part of learning to become a better Scrabble® player is understanding the concept of hooks. Hooks are tiles on the board which you can add to in order to create stronger and higher scoring words. Lots of players can find bingos, but then can’t find a place to put them. Memorizing hooks to words can help you find what seem like impossible places to play bingos, or simply high scoring words. For example, the board may be locked up, and the word loin is open in front. You can use the hook letter E to form eloin. Too many times, players may fail to recognize hooks at the beginning of words.

Another essential to get better at Scrabble® is to memorize all two-letter words. It’s often possible to play a word directly on top of another one. Many players think only of playing something across one letter, but many words can yield huge points when set directly on top of something else, which is possible under many circumstances. Most Scrabble® experts insist that memorizing three letter words is also essential.

It is especially important to understand the nature of tiles like J, Q, Z, and the blank. All three letters each have two letter words, which can be played to great effect when needed, respectively JO, QI, and ZA. You should also memorize the short list of Q words that don’t require a U, especially the words QAT, QI, and QAID, if you want to become a better Scrabble® player. Blank tiles, two per each game, are very special, since they can turn the ordinary word into a bingo. Most players recommend hoarding blanks for bingos, or using them to make words that will score at least 50 points.

Other seasoned players suggest that if you want to become a better Scrabble® player, you should look for common word endings, like ING, TION, IER, IEST, and IES. These can again help you find longer words, and you may want to save these tiles until you come up with bingos. It’s also a good idea to think of how your words affect other players. You want, in many cases, to avoid leaving your opponents with opportunities to score high because you’ve place high scoring letters next to double and triple word scores.

This strategy is not always used, and some of the best players prefer boards that are very open, with lots of opportunities to make bingos. Some players recommend that you always play your own game, without considering the other opponents. Always make the best possible score, and don’t worry about the scores or word opportunities of others. This game theory works well if you are excellent at forming bingos. It may not be the best strategy if you’re still memorizing.

Lastly, it’s very easy for lexophiles to get hung up on needing to know the definitions of words. Some of the best players don’t know them. Memorizing bingo racks and all their possible combinations is more mathematical than language oriented. Players may contend that to become a better Scrabble® player, you need to forget what the words mean, and simply memorize as many of them as possible, using whatever strategies you can to always produce the best scoring words. Again this theory tends to work extremely well in practice, and it has brought many young players into the competitive world of Scrabble® tournaments, simply because they’re very good at memorization, seeing hooks, and making bingos.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Wonderful piece of advice! Yes I agree with the writer, that in order to be better at the game of Scrabble® you cannot possibly know the meaning behind all of the words - because there's just too many! And I think that learning the 3-letter words are an absolute MUST! (:

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